Kerala plane crash: 30 CISF staff in quarantine

Updated: 11 August, 2020 08:09 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Unmindful of COVID-19 risk, they had rushed to help trapped passengers and have to be isolated as a precautionary measure after two travellers on ill-fated Dubai-Kozhikode AI flight tested positive

Officials stand on the debris of the Air India Express flight that skidded off a runway while landing in Kozhikode. File pic/AP
Officials stand on the debris of the Air India Express flight that skidded off a runway while landing in Kozhikode. File pic/AP

Thirty of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) staff deployed at Kozhikode airport, who were the first rescuers to pull out passengers from the wreckage of Air India Express Flight IX 1344 (Dubai-Kozhikode) on the night of August 7, have been put in quarantine, as a precautionary measure.

The Deputy Commandant (CISF) Kishore Kumar, in charge of the airport security and two Assistant Sub-Inspectors Mangal Singh, 56, and Ajit Singh, 36, who have been nominated for the DG's (CISF) commendation disc for good work, are also in quarantine. However, Kumar is reporting to work, with restricted movement.

Dy Commandant Kumar said, "We came to know that some of our front-line officers and personnel who were the first to reach out in the for rescue operation, had sustained some minor injuries and cuts. The next day, we learnt that two of the air passengers, who were rescued and taken to the hospital, were detected COVID positive. We also learnt that of the two passengers, the woman who tested positive, was declared dead on arrival at the hospital."

'No one has shown symptoms'
"It is a precautionary measure and none of our personnel in quarantine have shown any symptoms. In the next few days, we will conduct tests for all the staff in quarantine. Those whose test reports are negative, will resume duty and for the those who test positive, guidelines will be followed, accordingly," the Deputy Commandant added.

Kumar had reached the accident spot within eight minutes, and was supervising the rescue operation, mobilising the injured to hospitals, along with volunteers, and Airports Authority of India rescue teams. "I am restricting my movement to only my home and my office that is close by. Though the airport is functioning like before, the DGCA has restricted wide body airplanes, until further order.

Highly placed sources within Calicut airport informed mid-day that on an average around three to five Vande Bharat flights would arrive at Calicut airport from Dubai and on an average around 10 to 12 people would test positive for COVID-19 on arrival, and most of them would be asymptomatic.

Speaking to mid-day, Ajit Singh, assistant sub-inspector who is in home quarantine and was the first to enter the plane soon after the incident, said, "At that moment, the only thing on my mind was to reach out to maximum passengers who were trapped inside the airplane. I could pull out 14 to 15 of them, and did not think anything about the risk involved in helping the passengers trapped. I am in home quarantine, while some of my colleagues are in separate quarantine centres, which is few kilometers away, from the airport area."

COVID warning to staff helped
Deputy Commandant Kumar, who is a native of Kerala, and has been in CISF service for the past 17 years, added, "For the past few days Kondotty village, which is around the airport periphery, has been witnessing a steep rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and the district administration has declared the village as containment area, as over 200 positive cases were detected. Since then, we had given instructions to the CISF personnel not to venture outside the airport premises without any urgent work. This helped, as most of our personnel were available for the rescue operation."

Sabil Ali with the girl he saved and the appeal about her
Sabil Ali with the girl he saved and the appeal about her

Cop saves little child

Sabir Ali, is a Kerala police gunman, who works as body guard of Abdul Karim, Superintendent of Police, (Malappuram). Ali and the SP reached the plane accident spot around 7.45 pm. While looking for survivors, Ali spotted a small girl lying unconscious near the plane wreckage, and immediately informed his boss. They revived the baby who was around two years of age.

Speaking to mid-day, Ali said, "We had no clue about the parents of the baby, and the SP informed me to take his official car and rush the baby to the nearest hospital, which we reached by 8.30 pm."

"At the private hospital, the doctors examined the baby, and found her to be absolutely fine and she was discharged. I was directed by the SP to take the child to Kondutty police station, where she would be kept, until her parents were traced. The local taxi drivers took my picture with the child and then flashed on social media, giving my contact number. Around 2 am, the relatives of the missing child reached the police station. They informed that her name is Emrin Mohammed, 2, and she was returning from Dubai with her mother Fathima Vadakkavil, 28, and grandmother Laila. Both had sustained leg injuries," he added.

Also Read: Kerala plane crash: We heard a loud thud, and screams of the crew members, says survivor

The child was finally handed over to the relatives. "I am very proud of such a police officer who has ensured the safety and security of a kid in the Kozhikode plane mishap. This is the real service rendered by the Kerala police to the people of the state," said State DGP Loknath Behera.

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First Published: 11 August, 2020 07:05 IST

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